Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary



















February 28, 2017


Happy 33rd Birthday, Lauren Barnett!

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February 27, 2017


Go, Look: 11 New Yorker Cartoons By James Stevenson

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Missed It: Turkey's Girgir Shut Down Over Moses Cartoon

This is a mess. A judge shutting down a humorous magazine for blasphemy in Turkey right now is hardly surprising, though still depressing. This article indicates a sprawl of motivations and counter-arguments, though, including the notion that staffers ran the cartoon without vetting because of late-night journalistic exhaustion, and that the cartoon and its cursing Israelis was conceived as a kind of provocation that would get the paper shut down.

What that suggest to me is the repressive atmosphere isn't just seen in direct government restriction on speech but helps to build a culture of avoidance and blame that gums up the works before government even gets involved. Even the worst kind of speech in the whole world can be processed through a culture more fruitfully.
 
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Go, Look: The Nicest Dog

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So I Went To A Comics Event On Saturday Night

I attended what was basically, I think, the closing reception for the Billy Ireland installation of Windows On Death Row, which will run through the second Sunday in March. It's a show that's run three or four places in North America and at least two in Europe.

imageThis is one of Lebanese-Swiss cartoonist Patrick Chappatte's series of cartoon-driven installations concerning social issues, bringing to bear qualities people associate with comics and cartoon like humor, satirical insight and a diversity of voices on the political and practical viewpoints involved. The Billy Ireland installation provides a high quality mix of cartoons across four thematic organizing principles, along with art from death row inmates. The Saturday evening event included a walk-through with the curators, a reception and a speech featuring one of the artists and introduced by author Piper Kerman.

About 60 people attended, which was a nice crowd for an evening of overlapping campus events. The quality of "Windows" called for a full house. The art itself, like a lot of jailhouse art I've seen, was intriguing for its range of obviously self-taught craft with an almost routinely heartbreaking aspirational aspect, where an image might reflect a limited worldview or something the artist wishes for but isn't present. The reception was enjoyable for the attendees that weren't typical Billy event participants, a broad range of arts-interested people, at least two Kerman fans to whom I spoke, and campus denizens either ordered to be there or there for some assistance with their own death penalty related social causes.

The belle of this particular ball, though, was the presentation portion of the evening. All of those involved -- the organizers, Kerman and cartoonist Joel Pett were charming and concise, the latter of which might represent a miracle for this kind of thing. A general point made more than once involved the notion of fighting the death penalty as confronting the spear-tip for mass incarceration, a way of dulling the blade for a deeply ingrained and financially well-protected element of our country, all of which is derived from the nation's punishment culture. There was also some smart discussion of related issues, and steps to policy correction.

The show's heart was remarks from Ndume Olatushani, who spoke directly and eloquently to his decade-long incarceration on death row and what turned him around and the value of art in finding personal direction. It's one of the presentations I'll remember for the remainder of my life, the feeling of it if not the specifics. It was a moral address of the best kind. Olatushani's patience and display of character in parsing what had happened to him, and how it felt at different steps along the way, astonished most of the crowd. As pointed out several times, the activist and artist was a living example of why there shouldn't be a death penalty.

I hope to do many more shows like this in the years ahead. If you haven't seen the exhibition you have about two weeks for Ohio, or you can see it at future 2017 installations in Texas and New York City.

art by Kevin Cooper
 
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Go, Look: Nat Turner

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CRNI Updates The Case Against Musa Kart And Others, On The Fourth Month Of Their Imprisonment

Here.

The cartoonist and his journalist peers have not even been indicted, as of this writing.

imageVarious human rights-focused organizations have reacted strongly to the imprisonment, as the government detail. These tend to be broad commissions and organization rather than something within Turkey that might have greater pull to force action.

CRNI's description of the cartoonist's situation chills. I'll re-run it here with apologies because there may be a few people that will read it here and not follow a link to it. "... [Kart] continues to be held under the kind of restricted circumstances normally reserved for those convicted of a crime. While he and his journalist colleagues have access to paper and pen, nothing is permitted to leave and nor may they receive letters. They may see their lawyers once a week for one hour and up to three of their family members, also for one hour a week. Inmates and visitors are separated by glass during family visits or accompanied by a prison officer doing lawyer visits and at all times any discussion is audio-recorded. Inmates are permitted a phone call once in 15 days for a duration no longer than ten minutes. They cohabit in groups of three and aren’t allowed to see their peers. They are given access to a 3×5 meter yard with very high walls to get air and exercise. They do have a television and get the daily newspapers but there are limitations on books. Deputies from the CHP visit them often, as is their right, and share their messages with the public."

One hopes there is word of a case and/or its progression sooner rather than later. This is abominable, but it happened very quickly and with very relative pushback from the citizenry, or at least it seemed that way from the outside looking in. Horrifying in and of itself, it's not an unfair concern that this kind of thing may one day be common in all right-tilting countries, or those with a focus in maintaining power in one person.
 
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Go, Look: Eyeballs

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Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* there is a little over two weeks remaining in the Garbage Pail Kids collectible offering to benefit the mighty artist Jay Lynch by reducing the pressure brought about by some of his medical bills.

* there is still a long way to go for the Queers & Comix travel expenses crowd-funder. It has become increasingly difficult for every comics show to get every warm body it deserves.

* good to see the Treece family push past the halfway point.

* finally, last day to get on board with this Simon Wiesenthal comic.
 
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If I Were In The Bay Area, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Boner's Ark Cartoons

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Jess Camacho on Valiant High #1.

* that joke isn't funny enough to justify its place bumped up against some strong concerns readers will express, even if they're not really all that apt. If I put an equivalent tweet out there, I'd likely delete it.

* Sean Howe has a moment in mind when the Marvel Age of Comics truly began, and it'd be difficult to argue him out of it.

* this is a nice cartooned tribute to the late actor Bill Paxton.

* a pair of pin-ups of notice: 1) Kevin Nowlan doing Hellboy art seems a natural fit of artist and subject. It's handsome like nearly everything Nowlan does. 2) One thing I love about John Fantucchio's art is that what seems like a terrible idea when you think of it in abstract sort of works on the page.

* finally, these pieces of John Romita Spider-Man art are pretty great examples of his deep and abiding importance to that company.
 
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Happy 57th Birthday, Norm Breyfogle!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Jeff Smith!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Barry Matthews!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Andy Kubert!

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February 26, 2017


CR Newsmaker Interview: Anne Koyama

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*****

imageMy favorite news story of this last week was word that Anne Koyama, the gracious and much-loved publisher behind Koyama Press, was donating a bunch of original art of recent vintage to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. What's specifically great about this donation is that a lot of cartoonists coming up after the year 2000 have sold original art as a source of secondary income. To know there will be a collection in Columbus that encompasses that first generation of comics-school kids and the resurgent Small Press Expo crowd of that time period is thus a blessing and a thrill. We'll see how thrilling in a gallery show to be curated from the donation by Caitlin McGurk, to be up on the Billy's walls during CXC 2018.

Annie Koyama is famously one of the great, warm souls to ever work in comics, and I'm always delighted to talk to her. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Tell me about the earliest piece in the collection. Exactly what made you buy it?

ANNE KOYAMA: I can't recall the first actual piece but it may have been small pages from Melissa Mendes or Box Brown. In the early days, it was most likely an artist posting pages for sale in aid of paying their rent or needing funds to get to a show.

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SPURGEON: Was collecting any part of your experience before then, was it part of how you engaged with comics?

KOYAMA: Aside from a tacky salt and pepper shaker collection, I've never really been a collector. I was never going to be that person who bought something in the hopes of selling it on eBay later for a stupid amount of money. I'm driven more by connecting with artists. I can't work with everyone I'd like to and this was a way to support all kinds of artists.

SPURGEON: Do you remember how the collection stopped being just a few pieces you were buying from friends and people you liked and started having its own weight and momentum? Did that change how you approach your purposes?

KOYAMA: I do. I was at TCAF and I was talking to Jim Rugg. I knew that he was bringing his ballpoint pen drawings for sale and I really loved them. It seemed that no one else was doing that kind of work at the time. After gently berating him for charging too little for his work, I took a couple of pieces home. Looking at them later, I realized how selfish it felt to hold onto those pieces and have very few people ever see them in the flesh. So I started thinking about where I could place them so that anyone could see them. For a while I considered trying to organize a gallery/museum space but then realized how insane it would be to add another full-time job onto what I do now. I need regular reminders that I am not 20 any more, it seems.

SPURGEON: [laughs] Talk to me about maybe a favorite piece.

KOYAMA: I'm a huge fan of Kevin Huizenga's work and was pretty thrilled to have several of his pages in the collection. I feel that his work is under-appreciated.

SPURGEON: What do we learn about this group of cartoonists after spending an afternoon with your art?

KOYAMA: Though I did not set out to be a collector of comic art and work by cartoonists, it's a pretty diverse and perhaps not the most cohesive collection. However, it should stand as a snapshot of the decade from 2007 to 2017. If you viewed all of the work together, you'd probably see an eclectic collection that contains mostly emerging talents but what is wonderful to me is that many of those people are now well on their way as published authors. You may not see another collection with work by Jonny Negron, Keiler Roberts, Lane Milburn, Katie Skelly, Aidan Koch, Oliver East and Chris Pitzer!

SPURGEON: You have a lot of choices these days ... what about leaving this particular legacy at the Billy Ireland intrigued you?

KOYAMA: I looked around a bit but was really impressed by the work that the Billy Ireland Museum was doing and Caitlin McGurk and Jenny Robb both share the enthusiasm that I have for showing the work in the to anyone who shows any interest. How accessible that work is to the public sealed the deal for me. I'm less concerned about my legacy than I am for any of the artists.

I have held onto my collection of Canadian comic art for now as I'd ideally like to keep it in Canada but if I cannot find an institution that will make the work accessible to the public, this work may also find it's way to Columbus.

Someone cracked that I should get a big tax receipt for that donation. As a Canadian, I don't get a tax receipt and frankly, don't give a shit about tax receipts, I only care that the Museum has enough funding so that the work will be there for a long, long time.

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SPURGEON: Were you mindful of the fact that a lot of art from this specific generation may be lost to collectors and private collections?

KOYAMA: Yes, absolutely. And while I hope that some of those people eventually donate those pieces to a museum, many will probably stay in families as with anything collectible.

SPURGEON: Annie, how does it feel to let them go?

KOYAMA: It's the best feeling, really. When you grow up in a family of six kids with parents who didn't have much, you share everything and I mean everything. If you get to a point in life where you no longer have to share, it's important to keep making that a conscious choice.

*****

* Anne Koyama
* Koyama Press
* Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
* Original Press Release

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* from a beautiful Tim Hensley page
* from Dustin Harbin's comic about Koyama
* two full pages from Frank Santoro (first) and Aidan Koch (second)
* panel from a donated Sammy Harkham page

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Mumia And The Multitudes

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Go, Read: Survey Of David Mazzucchelli Short Stories

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Go, Look: The Introvert Club

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Go, Look: Fred Hembeck Doing Marvel Covers

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If I Were In Brussels, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Copenhagen, I'd Go To This

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Unfortunately, This Panel From A Story In Pictorial Romances #4 Kind Of Stands Alone

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Go, Look: Senorita Rio

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